Tips for Conducting a More Selective Scholarship Search
As long as you start your search early, both large- and small-dollar college scholarships can be worth your time and effort.
When applying for college scholarships and trying to determine which are worth your time and effort, consider the amount of work required, the dollar amount and the level of competition for the scholarship. A common marketing ploy is to offer as little money as possible and with few, if any, filters.
Being selective in your search is perfectly fine – just be sure to begin your scholarship search early so you will have time to apply to those that truly suit you.
The scholarship search process has levels. As long as you begin early, you can start by applying for easy scholarships and work your way up to the more competitive ones.
Being selective does not mean only applying to large-dollar, well-known scholarships. Small-dollar scholarships can add up.
Here are some tips for conducting a more selective scholarship search.
1. Take it easy: Starting out with easy scholarships can be particularly helpful for students who are new to the scholarship search process. Easy scholarships have a short and simple application process, do not require an essay or project and have less competition with greater chances of winning.
For example, if your last name is Zolp, you are attending or planning to attend Loyola University Chicago and you are Catholic, you easily qualify for the Zolp Scholarship. How many people will fit such a unique profile?
High school seniors or first-time college freshmen who are Alabama residents and plan to attend college in Alabama are eligible to apply for the CollegeCounts Scholarship Program as long as they have a minimum 2.75 GPA.
Easy scholarships – even at $500 per award – may be worth your time if your odds of winning are good. After all, that’s $500 that you don’t need to repay after graduation.
These are just a few of the easier and more specific scholarships out there. Don’t discount contests and sweepstakes as well, even if they are more widely offered. However, bear in mind that the easier the scholarship and the fewer requirements to enter, the less chance you have of winning.
2. Know your big-name scholarships: Corporate-hosted and large-name scholarships probably ring a bell for most college-bound students. These scholarships are not only prestigious but also reputable, and they can be worth thousands or even tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Typically, they require more work and an impressive profile, and they can be fairly competitive.
Recipients can also reference these scholarships as accomplishments on their resumes, which may offer the students benefits beyond the monetary award, including a supportive network of fellow awardees as well as the scholarship committee.
These scholarships are a great fit for students with a competitive edge, a drive to succeed and outstanding grades and extracurricular involvement. They’re not necessarily the easiest to apply to, but they offer large monetary awards to successful applicants.
In the world of scholarships, the Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholarship is open to stellar community college students who are also Phi Theta Kappa members as well as heavily involved in their communities.
The famous RMHC U.S. Scholarship is open to ambitious high school seniors residing in participating Ronald McDonald House Charity chapter areas. To qualify, applicants must be younger than 21 years old, be a U.S. resident and be eligible to attend a two- or four-year college, university or technical school.
3. Avoid scholarships that charge a fee: Students should never pay for a scholarship search or application fee. Even if the fee is a small, scammers can collect thousands in application fees, doling out a small fraction of the proceeds and pocketing the rest of the money.
Legitimate scholarship providers and services will never require a fee – be sure to read the rules carefully when applying and run in the other direction if prompted for credit card information.
Don’t worry, though – there are plenty of legitimate options and organizations that don’t charge a fee to process your application.
Ford Motor Company, for example, has partnered with The Adelante! U.S. Education Leadership Fund to offer the $1,500 ¡Adelante! Fund Ford Motor Company/Future Leaders Scholarship for deserving Hispanic college students majoring in a science, technology, engineering and math field.
4. Consider your return on investment: All students should consider their return on investment when searching for scholarships. Churning out essays may be easy for students with strong writing skills but the average 500-1,500 word essay may take a bit longer for others.
Strong writers should certainly submit their well-written essays, especially if they’re confident they can win a scholarship available to a broad pool of applicants. They should also determine whether they can reuse any of those essays for more than one scholarship application, if the scholarship rules allow.
For example, the NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund offers a writing contest for grades K-12 on the theme of the Second Amendment. Although the age range is fairly broad, strong essay writers have a chance to win $1,000 by competing against fellow students in their age group.
Undergraduate and graduate women who are interested in various aspects of international business and relations and have solid writing chops can enter an essay on the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences for a chance at winning one of two $1,500 WIIT Trust Scholarships.
About Scholarship Search Insider
Scholarship Search Insider features weekly expert advice and information on how prospective college students can find scholarships and pay for college. Scholarships.com was founded in 1998 and has become one of the most widely used free college scholarship search and financial aid information resources. College Greenlight is a leading college and scholarship platform for first-generation and underrepresented students. Its parent company, Cappex.com, is a free resource that helps students find their best-fit colleges. Got a question?